Curse of the Starving Class
Closed 2h 30m
Curse of the Starving Class
77

Curse of the Starving Class NYC Reviews and Tickets

77%
(185 Reviews)
Positive
83%
Mixed
13%
Negative
4%
Members say
Great acting, Absorbing, Intense, Great staging, Thought-provoking

About the Show

Last produced in NYC by Signature more than 20 years ago, this new production of "Curse of the Starving Class" honors Pulitzer Prize-winning Legacy Playwright Sam Shepard, who passed away in 2017. 

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Member Reviews (185)

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89
Great staging, Relevant, Great acting, Absorbing, Bleak

See it if you want to see an unrelenting, 1st-rate revival of a work from Shepard's most fertile period that's as gritty, moving & timely as ever.

Don't see it if u seek pure escapism; u don't have the stomach for the relentless dysfunction of this family & the situation they represent in our society.

78
Well acted & staged, Disappointing, Edgy, Thought-provoking, Ambitious

See it if Early Shepard (still finding his voice) is problematic yet not w/o its surrealistic beauty esp in fracturing family unit via outside forces

Don't see it if High octane 1st act both in writing & staging turns into stalled 2nd act As imploding famlly looses its chances for escape so does narrative

Critic Reviews (27)

The New York Times
May 13th, 2019

"Watching the very entertaining first half of Mr. Kinney’s interpretation of 'Curse,' I wondered why it doesn’t come around more often. I had stopped wondering by the end. 'Curse' features some beautiful, signature Shepard writing, in which primal desperation becomes fervid poetry...The plot, though, seems to thicken like clotting blood...We aren’t as rattled as we should be by the play’s more violent and congested second half."
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Time Out New York
May 15th, 2019

“Kinney and his cast find memorable moments in Shepard’s darkly satirical play...Time has diminished some...shock value and the Signature’s production doesn’t dig deeply enough into the feeling the play seems to be after: It doesn’t pulse with the agony of stunted existence. But Shepard’s potent writing, with its raw pain and rich symbolism, still resonates. Its depiction of a white rural family worried about losing its homestead...seems very much in step with the national mood.”
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New York Magazine / Vulture
May 13th, 2019

"It should heave and churn with bitter discontent and sloppy ambition, delusion and shame. But it’s a tough, flawed nut, and it’s not profiting from Signature Theatre’s current revival, which mostly plays the unwieldy material straight down the middle. As a result, the play feels diffuse and almost plodding in its long first act, and the lurid transformations and deadly outbursts of its second act are consequently dulled."
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The Hollywood Reporter
May 13th, 2019

"Shepard's plays are tricky balancing acts. They need to be staged by directors and actors in touch with the late playwright's distinctive, off-kilter vision. That's certainly the case with this production...Kinney could have picked up the pace faster, and the decision to condense the first two acts results in an overly long, 90-minute first half. Nonetheless, the work's raw power and bleak humor resonate strongly, thanks to the ensemble's fully invested performances."
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The Observer
May 13th, 2019

"May be overlong and lopsided, but still throws off sparks of that crazy Shepard vibe...Kinney’s staging is tight and propulsive, and he guides the actors to unlocking pure moments of animal magnetism...For the long (90-minute) first part of this production, Shepard’s black humor and the hard-working cast keep the gritty nonsense humming. It’s the final 40 minutes after intermission where things go truly bonkers and, sadly, dull."
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Theatermania
May 13th, 2019

“The richness of the stagecraft in...Kinney's production feels obscene when one considers the story...These expensive-looking alterations are to the detriment of the script...This play about poor people shouldn't feel like it was art directed for Vogue. The performances vary...’Curse of the Starving Class’ is still brutally perceptive in its dreamlike depiction of American society, but it's hard to see that through the self-defeating opulence of this revival.”
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BroadwayWorld
May 14th, 2019

“Latecomers to...Kinney’s finely-acted revival of Shepherd’s dysfunctional family drama will miss the show stopping bit of stagecraft that opens the production...This symbolic visual that serves as the background for the entire piece seems to reinforce the verbal symbolism in the playwright's text....’Curse’ won Shepard an Obie and...helped establish the playwright as a unique voice that used dark humor to dissemble the traditionally romantic view of America's rural landscape.”
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Lighting & Sound America
May 28th, 2019

"The passage of time, aided by Kinney's lovingly detailed production, casts it in a different light; today, it seems an uncanny depiction of gnawing dissatisfaction in the American heartland...The characters' reckless, self-sabotaging pursuit of wealth and escape leads only to ruin...Kinney's cast is exceptionally adept at serving up this buffet of bad behavior, especially when it comes to switching emotional states, and tactics, on a dime.”
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Talkin' Broadway
May 13th, 2019

"Terry Kinney has a long history as both an actor in and director of Shepard plays, and his direction of the current revival finds the right balance among the violence, dark humor, pathos, and poetry...As with the other plays in the trilogy, 'Curse of the Starving Class' shows that the dissolution of the American dream is not just a national tragedy but a domestic one as well."
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New York Stage Review
May 13th, 2019

"Couldn’t be riper for reflection...Crouch’s most prominent set piece and prop is a potential storage place for nourishment, a refrigerator, that remains bare through much of the first act. Characters open it, inspect it, speak to it, slam it shut in frustration; they’re mired in hunger, and not just for food. So long as such exchanges are taking place, 'Curse of the Starving Class' will lose none of its resonance, or its bite."
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New York Stage Review
May 13th, 2019

"As good as the actors all are—and they are all very good—this production’s best asset is undoubtedly director Terry Kinney...Given all the crazy goings-on—the missing chicken, the maggoty lamb, the urine-soaked floor—it would be easy to dismiss these characters as a bunch of crazies, to exploit their eccentricities for maximum comic effect. But Kinney sees them for exactly who they are: Outsiders. Idealists. Fighters. Americans."
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Theater News Online
May 16th, 2019

“The play flip-flips from comedy to tragedy and plainspoken realism to absurdism in the blink of an eye...Hugging tight to the contours of Shepard’s script is no mean feat, but Kinney’s ensemble handles that capably enough. Geary and DeClement are especially effective. His freaky food binge is bound to make you lose your appetite, and if it doesn’t, what he does with a maggot-plagued lamb will. Her high-octane performance jolts each scene to life – and that’s anything but a curse."
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TheaterScene.net
May 28th, 2019

"The original production of 'Curse of the Starving Class' in 1977 was a shocker even for a time when permissiveness prevailed. Kinney seems to have decided that the play Shepard wrote isn't sufficiently meaningful or effective, so he decided to exaggerate everything, beginning with the scenery-a large, dumpy, shopworn kitchen-literally breaking apart accompanied by explosive noises before the play begins. The set is left hanging in pieces as the characters go about their business."
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Theatre is Easy
May 13th, 2019

“This production of ‘Curse of the Starving Class’ does honor to Shepard. With a slight end-of-the-world, ‘Mad Max’ feel...The actors are key to bringing Shepard's text to life and this cast certainly does their job...The work done by scenic designer Julian Crouch is also noteworthy...Crouch’s work illuminates Kinney's dark vision...This ‘Curse of the Starving Class’ is a job well done by all involved.”
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CurtainUp
May 15th, 2019

“A flawed revival...This production is not for the faint-hearted or weak-stomached...The big drawback...is that it pulls out the theatrical stops too early...No subsequent scene comes near to matching its frisson...Kinney should have trusted more in Shepard's language and the whole moving spirit of the play...It might not fire on all cylinders. But it sure does allow one to get a real taste of the late author's genius.”
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Front Row Center
May 14th, 2019

"I admit it, I’m a big fan of Shepard’s plays, especially his 70’s and 80’s works like 'Curse of the Starving Class', which is currently being revived by Signature Theatre in an outstanding production. Not only is it masterfully directed by Kinney who was a long-time collaborator of Shephard’s, having both acted in his plays and directed them, but the cast is superb. And the production values are impeccable. If you’re a fan, go see it. If you’ve never seen a Shepard play, don’t miss it."
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Exeunt Magazine
May 14th, 2019

"The Tate family’s rundown farmhouse kitchen...Suspended as if trapped mid-explosion...Its a stunning effect, but it has the side effect of foreshadowing both theme and plot in a way that makes the play grimmer and more frightening, layering even its moments of dark humor with ever-present existential dread...Kinney’s production does capture well Shepard’s characteristic oscillation between hyper-real physicality and archetypal elements in the plot and characters."
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Broadway Blog
May 24th, 2019

"Unexciting, emotionally uninvolving…The play incorporates considerable humor; this production, though, too rarely realizes those comical dimensions…Few moments find the right balance between Shepard's earthy realism and his poetic demands. Katz's exquisitely modulated lighting captures the shifting moods much more effectively than the prosaic performances, which sometimes makes it difficult to accept the reality behind the more theatrically exaggerated scenes."
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C
May 13th, 2019

"It's easy to understand how 'Curse of the Starving Class' both jolted audiences and cemented Shepard's reputation as a playwright in its 1978 premiere at The Public Theater by showing us the warts-and-all underbelly of America and this not atypical American family. And, 40 years later, there remains a shocking timeliness to its themes of the haves versus have-nots and the death of the so-called American Dream among our country's working class."
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Gotham Playgoer
May 13th, 2019

"Shepard has burdened the play with too many metaphor-laden monologues. Director Terry Kinney has combined the first two acts into one, which makes for a long 90 minutes before intermission...Director Kinney shows an affinity for Shepard. If you are a Shepard fan, you may well enjoy yourself; if not, it may be a long 2 1/2 hours."
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scribicide
May 14th, 2019

"For anyone conversant with Shepard, the terrain is familiar and rewarding. The language is beautiful and the action hypnotic."
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Diandra Reviews it All
May 15th, 2019

“If there is one thing Sam Shepard enjoyed as a playwright, it is symbolism...Signature Theater’s revival of ‘Curse of The Starving Class’ is not only poignant; it is predictive...As a cast, you cannot beat 'Starving Class.' Each cast member emanates their frustration, sadness, boredom, and rage at having to find ways to survive a life they barely want to live...Kinney brilliantly presents Shepard’s script as an affront to capitalistic greed.”
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The Wrap
May 13th, 2019

"Terry Kinney begins his solid revival of the 1978 Sam Shepard drama with a jolting coup de theatre...But aside from the onstage appearance of an adorable, scene-stealing lamb, the rest of Kinney’s production never quite matches the shock of its opening moments...There’s not a great deal of subtlety here, either in the performances or in Shepard’s often on-the-nose metaphors. As a result, the reversals of plot and character in the last act fail to deliver the impact they deserve."
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I
May 15th, 2019

“A compelling ferocious revival...Luckily, director Terry Kinney...balances the tricky tone of 'Curse of the Starving Class' compellingly, which is a relief given the lopsided nature of the piece...The third and final act seems a bit rushed and eager to bring the story to its conclusion. Nevertheless, the cast is excellent, fearlessly handling the text’s demanding ricocheting between absurdity and intense – often ferociously violent – realism."
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Off Off Online
May 15th, 2019

“A generally sturdy production that opts for some overly broad humor, diminishing the impact of the play’s turn to violent, grotesque tragedy. What should feel like a punch in the gut is more like a tap...The humor on display...is more in the vein of a particularly zany sitcom...In this production, one is too much aware of watching a play that is dealing with a set of themes. This reduces the ending’s emotional impact...We see the mess and the tragedy, but we don’t quite feel it.”
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Reclining Standards
May 26th, 2019

"The opening explosion removes any sense of normal suburban existence, which 'Curse' absolutely needs if the satire is to sting as it should...The play has much more bite if they are trying to keep up the middle-class illusion, despite everything going wrong around them...I actually thought the cast was pretty strong throughout...I’d like to have seen this cast with a different director—I really think the ingredients are there, but it doesn’t catch fire."
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W
May 16th, 2019

"The tortured self reflection and battling family members are operatic in scale and grounded in the impossible circumstances of deeply scarred individuals. This production is a master class on depicting Shepard's denizens of self destruction. Warshofsky deserves a special call out as an exceptional Weston but the entire cast is exceptional. If you are a fan of Shepard's work you should be pleased with this version. If you have never seen a play by Shepard this is a good place to start."
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